At least 160 people have died in floods and landslides in Central America and southern Mexico . The region has suffered heavy rainfall caused by Tropical Storm Stan, and river levels are still rising. Rescue workers are struggling to evacuate thousands at risk. Roads have been blocked and many bridges are on the point of collapse. El Salvador and Guatemala have been worst affected.
United Nations officials are have expressed concern that Eritrea is secretly building up its troops along the border with Ethiopia. Eritrea banned UN helicopter flights earlier this week. The UN uses helicopters to transport peacekeepers and carry out reconnaissance flights. The UN Security Council has called on Eritrea to immediately reverse its decision. Last month Eritrea threatened to re-start a war with Ethiopia if the UN failed to resolve a border dispute between the two countries. The last border war killed 70,000 people and ended in 2000.
The World Bank has warned India it faces a severe water crisis in 20 years’ time unless it tightens regulations. In its latest report the Bank says most Indians pump their water directly from boreholes because of poor official supply. This unrestricted use of water means groundwater is rapidly running out. Even in the capital Delhi, people have dug bore wells because the city does not provide a 24-hour water supply.
The Human Rights group Amnesty International has claimed Greece is breaking international human rights law in its treatment of asylum-seekers. The organisation says some people have been shot dead on the border, and others have been charged with ‘illegal entry’ before they could apply for refugee protection. It also says some people are being held in metal containers. The Greek government responded to the claims, saying it is completely opposed to the violation of human rights.
Scientists in the US have found that the Spanish flu virus which killed millions in 1918 has many similarities to the Asian bird flu virus. Both viruses share a similar ability to mutate and replicate quickly. They also say Spanish flu may have originated in birds. Scientists are concerned that the Asian bird flu virus, which has killed 65 people, may also mutate into a human flu virus.
Colombia has set up a commission to compensate victims of the country’s 40-year civil war. The commission will provide financial help to victims and their families, and investigate abuses against civilians. Only those who were targeted by right-wing paramilitaries will receive compensation. They are currently the only group involved in the peace process, and the government hopes they will provide some of the money. Thousands of civilians have died in Colombia’s civil war between left-wing rebels, right-wing paramilitaries and government forces.